Thursday, August 7, 2014

Voices Blow Out

Somewhere in Iowa, I was barreling along the freeway.  All of a sudden I heard a loud pop from somewhere over my right shoulder. What caused it?  Then I heard, “Blowout!”  It wasn’t the voice of my ordinary mind chatter;  it seemed to come from an outside source.  The Voice continued, “Keep your feet off the pedals, hold tight to the wheel, and steer to the side of the road.”   The Voice told me exactly what I’d learned in Driver’s Ed.
I didn’t hear  the Voice again until about ten years later while giving one of my first dog training lessons.  Being inexperienced, I hadn’t asked the owners to put the first dog away while I worked with the second. The first dog, out of the action, gripped my leg from behind. “This dog is biting me,” the Voice said.   I felt no pain whatsoever, but then I saw blood running down my leg.  Again, the Voice had told the truth.
    Others who have heard voices believe they came from a supernatural source.  Religious leaders have received spiritual and ethical teachings in that manner.  Moses was given the Ten Commandments, Muhammad the Koran, and Joseph Smith the Book of Mormon on golden plates.
Occasionally a seemingly divine voice tells the hearer to do something evil.  Claiming they were acting under direct orders from God, renegade Mormons Ron and Dan Lafferty murdered their sister-in-law and her 15-month-old daughter.*
The Society of Friends (Quakers) believes that every person has a direct link to the Divine.  How do Quakers keep people from claiming their insight is Divine and must be obeyed?  The person with the insight must bring it to a meeting of fellow Quakers for a process of group discernment.  Among Friends, individual inspirations are subordinate to the meeting as a whole.
I’m not a believer in the Supernatural.  I hold that my Voice, which appeared to come from outside me, actually came from my subconscious mind.  In my case, my subconscious mind was a repository of valuable advice.  For all we know, all seemingly supernatural voices come from the hearer’s own mind.  The Voice may range from true and inspiring as it was for Moses, be valid direction as it was in my case, or it may be an excuse for evil behavior.  The Quakers know it takes a village to tell the difference.

*Jon Krakauer begins his account of Mormonism, Under the Banner of Heaven, with the story of the murder, then expands to a history of the sect, emphasizing the potential for violence because of the blood atonement doctrine and personal divine revelation (granted only to males).  However, the state of Utah, 60% Mormon, has a murder rate of 1.8 per 100,000 compared to the national rate of 4.7 per 100,000.